The Phantom Limb in Life

There’s this amputee, he sees his hand isn’t there anymore, but he feels and moves same amputated hand and it’s fingers.

He knows his mind, or brain, is playing tricks on him, and that his eyes see correctly, but the feeling is too real to ignore or treat as false.

So he writes this poem (with the one hand left):

It isn’t there, though he feels it
So that it’s like it’s there, but it isn’t 
Neither a hope to grow back
Nor a denial that it’s gone
But vicarious experience through sticky recollection
Of a natural perception with no basis for reality


He’s not mad, certainly not deluded
Has a confusion instead
Wired by holding on to that past so strongly
That he can’t feel the now thus clearly
And he sings the song this way
‘You don’t know what you’ve lost till it’s gone’

One treatment suggested in a talk by neurologist, V.S. Ramachandran, (three clues to understanding your brain) is to correct the false perception in our brains by using a mirror. This is like how he showed it:
 “…And we all, with unveiled face, the glory of the Lord beholding in a mirror, to the same image are being transformed …” [2nd Corinthians 3:18].

Not exactly the same, but you understand:

Her husband died; she doesn’t miss him.
But she feels him like a fanthom limb;
his dictates remained.

All that condemnation from outside.
Over time it fades away.
And now that the eyes sees that the bond is no more,
the butterfly has refused to leave the jar,
and the elephant, to roam free.

He left her, but her mind hasn’t left him;
living in emotional mementos,
holding on to the ‘in love’ she still holds.
Experiencing him like a phantom limb;
the brain marked with what isn’t, as though it is.

He’s retired and a janitor
Formally a Sergeant Major
Barking commands and uplifting insults
As if the people should pay attention

“Sir,” a teacher said, “place it in the pot of truth using a mirror until the truth sticks.”
So help you God.

Imprints on the mind and brain, of what isn’t=Patterns of repeated synapses that need to be interrupted, or better, redirected.

If elephants never forget, likewise do butterflies.

This is like the functional experience/perception of something that was once part of one, with the knowledge that it isn’t. Is it ‘bad’ if you actually do control it? Isn’t it unjust to covet the experience?